South Korea to start imposing income tax on clergy

  • South Korea will start imposing taxes on religious practitioners starting 2018
  • The National Assembly finally passed the controversial bill after nearly 5 decades of debate
  • The government said it is not a matter of increasing revenues, but rather of imposing a fair taxation practice

SEOUL, South Korea – The South Korean government has finally passed the landmark bill that will soon impose taxes on clergy; ending the nearly five decades of debate over the issue.

The National Assembly passed on Wednesday evening, December 2, the controversial tax bill that has been deadlocked for more than forty years. Legislators have voted 195-20, in favor of passing the measure, with 50 abstentions.

A report on state-run Yonhap news agency said lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy both agreed to put the bill for plenary voting; winning an overwhelming majority afterwards, two days after it was approved by the assembly’s Strategy and Finance Committee.

Under the bill’s provision, the government is now mandated to collect taxes of as much as 20 percent of the clergy’s income starting January 2018.

However, exemptions of 80% of their income will be given to those whose yearly allowances are less than 40-M won ($35,000); 60% for those with between 40M – 80M won; and 40% for those getting 80M-150M won, as long as these exemptions will be declared ‘necessary expenses’.

While majority of the Catholic churches and Buddhists temples in the country are supporting the measure and have actually voluntarily paid income taxes over the past years, majority of the Protestant group is known to oppose it. (Click here to read more)

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